RogerBW's Blog

Paul Temple and the Conrad Case 09 August 2020

1959 thriller by Francis Durbridge: Paul Temple is a professional novelist and amateur sleuth. A young woman has vanishes from a finishing-school in Bavaria… starring Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury.

Things rapidly become very confused, and naturally Drugs are involved. There are perhaps slightly too many characters, especially considering that this was originally broadcast at one episode a week; but the objective is that the listener shall be surprised.

Unfortunately if you just assume that whatever seems least likely must be what's going on you won't be too far from the mark. Durbridge's main trick is to get the listener to say "oh, surely not him!". But it's enjoyable even so, and there are details that this approach won't reveal.

Notable background details in this one include the importance of making a distinction between normal dancing and modern young-people dances like the cha-cha. And there's that usual post-war undercurrent that German people are faintly suspicious simply because they're German; but there are plenty of non-foreign villains as well. More seriously, most of the things that go wrong for the villains can be traced to the innate unprofessionalism of anyone involved with drugs; when you have a hero who's at risk of coming over as smug and self-satisfied, I think it's important to show him succeeding by his own merits.

Still, while this is no masterpiece it has its moments.

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